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Window shopping, sometimes called browsing, refers to tướng an activity in which a consumer browses through or examines a store's merchandise as a khuông of leisure or external tìm kiếm behaviour without a current intent to tướng buy. Depending on the individual, window shopping can be a pastime or be used to tướng obtain information about a product's development, brand differences, or sale prices.
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The development of window shopping, as a khuông of recreation, is strongly associated with the rise of the middle classes in 17th and 18th century Europe. Glazing was a central feature of the grand shopping arcades that spread across Europe from the late 18th century. Promenading in these arcades became a popular 19th-century pastime for the emerging middle classes.
Traditionally, window shopping involves visiting a brick-and-mortar store to tướng examine the goods on display, but it is also done online in recent times due to tướng the availability of the mạng internet and e-commerce. A person who enjoys window shopping is known as a window shopper.
The development of window shopping, as a khuông of recreation, is strongly associated with the rise of the middle classes in 17th- and 18th-century Europe. As standards of living improved in the 17th century, consumers from a broad range of social backgrounds began to tướng purchase goods that were in excess of basic necessities. An emergent middle class or bourgeoisie stimulated demand for luxury goods, and the act of shopping came to tướng be seen as a pleasurable pastime or khuông of entertainment. Shopping for pleasure became a particularly important activity for middle and upper-class women, since it allowed them to tướng enter the public sphere without the need for a chaperone.
Prior to tướng the 17th century, glazed cửa hàng windows were virtually unknown. Instead, early shopkeepers typically had a front door with two wider openings on either side, each covered with shutters. The shutters were designed to tướng open sánh that the top portion formed a canopy while the bottom was fitted with legs sánh that it could serve as a shopboard. Scholars have suggested that the medieval shopper's experience was very different. Many stores had openings onto the street from which they served customers. Glazed windows, which were rare in medieval times, meant that cửa hàng interiors were dark places which militated against detailed examination of the merchandise. Shoppers, who rarely entered the cửa hàng, had relatively few opportunities to tướng inspect the merchandise prior to tướng purchase.
Glazing was widely used from the early 18th century. English commentators pointed to tướng the tốc độ at which glazing was installed. Daniel Defoe, writing in 1726, noted, "Never was there such painting and guildings, such sashings and looking-glasses as the shopkeepers as there is now." The widespread availability of plate glass in the 18th century led cửa hàng owners to tướng build windows that spanned the full lengths of their shops for the display of merchandise to tướng draw in customers. One of the first Londoners to tướng experiment with this new glazing in a retail context was the tailor Francis Place at his Charing Cross establishment.
In Paris, where pedestrian pavements were few, retailers were eager to tướng attract window shoppers by providing a safe shopping environment away from the filthy and noisy streets, and began to tướng construct rudimentary arcades, which eventually evolved into the grand arcades of the late 18th century and which dominated retail throughout the 19th century. Opening in 1771, the Colisée, situated on the Champs Elysées, consisted of three arcades, each with ten shops, all running off a central ballroom. Parisians saw this location as too remote, and the arcade closed within two years of opening. However, the Galerie de Bois, a series of wooden shops linked to tướng the ends of the Palais-Royal (pictured), opened in 1786 and became a central part of Parisian social life. Within a decade, the Palais shopping complex added many more shops, as well as cafés and theatres. In its heyday, the Palais-Royal was a complex of gardens, shops and entertainment venues situated on the external perimeter of the old palace grounds, under the original colonnades. The area boasted some 145 boutiques, cafés, salons, hair salons, bookshops, museums, and numerous refreshment kiosks, as well as two theatres. The retail outlets specialised in luxury goods such as fine jewellery, furs, paintings and furniture designed to tướng appeal to tướng the wealthy elite.
Inspired by the success of the Palais-Royal, retailers across Europe erected grand shopping arcades and largely followed the Parisian model which included extensive use of pane glass. Not only were the shopfronts made of pane glass, but a characteristic feature of the modern shopping arcade was the use of glass in an atrium-styled roofline, which allowed for natural light and reduced the need for candles or electric lighting. Modern grand arcades opened across Europe and in the Antipodes. The Passage de Feydeau in Paris (opened in 1791) and Passage du Claire in 1799; London's Piccadilly Arcade (opened in 1810); Paris's Passage Colbert (1826) and Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (1878). London's Burlington Arcade, which opened in 1819, positioned itself as an elegant and exclusive venue designed to tướng attract the elite, from the outset. Some of the earliest examples of shopping arcades with expansive glazed shop-windows appeared in Paris. These were among the first modern shops to tướng make use of glazed windows to tướng display merchandise. Other notable nineteenth-century grand arcades included the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels which was inaugurated in 1847, Istanbul's Çiçek Pasajı opened in 1870 and Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, first opened in 1877.
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Promenading in these arcades became a popular nineteenth-century pastime for the emerging middle classes. Designed to tướng attract the genteel middle class, these shopping arcades came to tướng be the place to tướng cửa hàng and to tướng be seen. Individual stores fitted with long glass exterior windows allowed the emerging middle classes to tướng window cửa hàng and indulge in fantasies, even when they may not have been able to tướng afford the high retail prices of the luxury outlets inside the arcade.
By the 1900s the popularity of window displays had heightened and the window display became more elaborate, continuing to tướng attract not only those that wanted to tướng make purchases but also passers-by that appreciated beauty. To achieve the right aesthetics, store owners and managers would hire decorators or window dressers to tướng attractively arrange merchandise in the cửa hàng windows; indeed, the professional window display design soon became an object used to tướng lure shoppers into the stores.
As a khuông of leisure
Most men mistakenly assume that you look into show windows to tướng find something to tướng buy. Women know better. They enjoy window-shopping for its own sake. Store windows, when you look into them with pleasure-seeking eyes, are strange places full of mental adventure. They contain first clues to tướng dozens of treasure hunts which if you follow them, lead to tướng as many different varieties of treasure. – MW Marston, The Rotarian, September 1938
Window shopping was synonymous with being in the thành phố and moreover offered women a legitimate reason to tướng be able to tướng move around in public without a chaperone. In the late 1800s it was a minor scandal to tướng move around in public without a male chaperone because not everyone was happy about the intrusion of women into urban life. Many looked down on females who walked the streets alone and even newspaper columnists condemned their shopping habits as "salacious acts of public consumerism." However, the rise of window displays soon gave women a foothold in the modern thành phố, and for many, a new pastime. Soon, housewives started roaming the thành phố under the pretext of shopping. "Shopping" in this context did not always involve an actual purchase, it was more about the pleasures of perusing, taking in the sights, the displays, and the people.
Prior to tướng the introduction of plate glass for shops and the development of window shopping, people could not just enter shops without the intention to tướng make a purchase; even less sánh to tướng walk around just for fun or to tướng pass time. Most stores before and during World War II were small, with not enough space for people to tướng just go and linger about. The early department stores pioneered the transformation of traditional customers into modern consumers and of mere "merchandise" into spectacular "commodity signs" or "symbolic goods". Thus they laid the cornerstones of a culture we still inhabit. Peoples' patronage of stores transformed from just walking in, buying and leaving to tướng "shopping", especially for females. Shopping no longer consisted of haggling with the seller but of the ability to tướng dream with one's eyes open, to tướng gaze at commodities and enjoy their sensory spectacle.
With the development of large out-of-town malls, especially after WWII, and more recently sales outlets in central high streets, shopping places are becoming hybrid spaces mixing goods and leisure in varied proportions. Traditional small forms of stores and retail distributors have been replaced with large malls and shopping centres which now characterize contemporary Western retail. In these modern times, though malls and shopping centres have fixed prices, one can enter and leave as one wants without purchasing any item. It has become a place of socialization or leisure for most people, especially women.
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Indeed, the pleasures, meanings and competences which consumers put to tướng work in shopping centres and department stores are far broader phàn nàn their ability to tướng bargain on price and purchase objects: in these spaces people tự not just buy things, they keep up with the world of things, spending time with friends in a polished environment filled with both fantasy and information. In fact, around a third of those who enter a shopping centre leave without having bought anything.
In practice, thus, window shopping is an assorted activity, done differently according to tướng the shopper's social identity.
Online window shopping
There are some types of consumers who spend a lot of time in online marketplaces but never purchase anything or even have the intention to tướng buy and since there are no "transportation costs" required on visiting an online store site, it is much easier phàn nàn visiting a brick-and-mortar store. This cluster of online consumers are called "e-window shoppers", as they are predominantly driven by stimulation and are only motivated to tướng surf the mạng internet by visiting interesting shopping websites. These e-shoppers appear as curious shoppers that are only interested in seeing what is out there rather phàn nàn trying to tướng negotiate to tướng obtain the lowest possible price. These online window shoppers use news and pictures of products to tướng seek hedonic experience as well as keep themselves up to tướng date with the industry status and new trends.
- "Window Shopper", a single by rapper 50 Cent
- "Window Shopping", a tuy vậy written by Marcel Joseph and popularized by country singer Hank Williams, who released the tuy vậy in July 1952 on MGM Records
- "Nan, you’re a Window Shopper", a parody of 50 Cent's Window Shopper by Lily Allen
- "Window Shopping", a stock tuy vậy on Capital Records' Media Music albums
- Breakfast at Tiffany's, a 1961 American romantic comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and written by George Axelrod, featured Audrey Hepburn window shopping at Tiffany & Co. in the first scene.
- Fashion Window Shopping, a book by David Choi
- Window Shopping, a book by Anne Friedberg
- Window-shopping through the iron curtain, a book by David Hlynsky
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- ^ Conlin, J., Tales of Two Cities: Paris, London and the Birth of the Modern City, Atlantic Books, 2013, Chapter 2; Willsher, K., "Paris's Galeries de Bois, Prototype of the Modern Shopping Centre," [A history of cities in 50 buildings, day 6], 30 March 2015
- ^ a b Byrne-Paquet, L., The Urge to tướng Splurge: A Social History of Shopping, ECW Press, Toronto, Canada, pp. 90–93
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- ^ a b Byrne-Paquet, L., The Urge to tướng Splurge: A Social History of Shopping, ECW Press, Toronto, Canada, pp. 92–95
- ^ Byrne-Paquet, L., The Urge to tướng Splurge: A Social History of Shopping,ECW Press, Toronto, Canada, pp. 90–93
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- ^ Marston, W.M. (September 1938). "You might as well enjoy it". The Rotarian. p. 23.
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- ^ Sassatelli, R. (2007). Consumer culture: History, theory and politics. London: Sage Publications.
- ^ Kowinski, W. S. (1985). The Malling of America. New York: William Morrow.
- ^ Shields, R., ed. (1992). Lifestyle Shopping: The Subject of Consumption. London: Routledge.
- ^ Sassatelli, R. (2007). Consumer culture: History, theory and politics. London: Sage Publications.
- ^ a b Liu, Fang; Wang, Rong; Zhang, Ping; and Zuo, Meiyun, "A Typology of Online Window Shopping Consumers" (2012). PACIS 2012 Proceedings. Paper 128.
- ^ Ganesh, J.; Reynolds, K.E.; Luckett, M.; Pomirleanu, N. (2010). "Online shopper motivations, and e-store attributes: An examination of online patronage behavior and shopper typologies". Journal of Retailing. pp. 106–115.